As the phenomenon of the meme shows no sign of abating, there is practically no subject matter that one cannot transform into relatable viral content: topics range from the politics of mental health to the perils of modern dating. Fashion, being one of the most parodiable and problematic industries of them all, hasn’t escaped the wrath of the meme admin either; with accounts such as @dankartdirectormemes, @photocopier_ and @fashionassistants
garnering collective acclaim from those who work within it.
Now there is a new fashion meme account on the block, @slowfashionmemes, producing “organic, certified fairtrade memes manufactured from natural fibres w/ living wage distributed transparently to ur feed faster than u can say primark” (or so its bio wryly states).
‘Sustainability’ in fashion production is a veritable buzzword in recent years, with a plethora of established and emerging brands jumping on the ethical status wagon. Often, such brands do not practise what they preach – a predicament that the account’s creator, a 23-year-old student at The University of the Arts, London, is acutely aware of. What she wants, she explains, is to “appreciate the irony of the slow-living movement in this day and age, because it’s so hard to do anything 100% consciously”.
A selection of recognisable meme templates – including the ‘nut button’, the ‘expanding brain’ and ‘math lady’ – have been doctored to generate shareable posts poking fun at the fallacies of fast fashion. With captions like “when the marketing is feminist but their garment workers don’t get maternity rights” and “You vs. The Guy she tells you not to worry about” (captioning a plastic bag and a reusable cotton tote) @slowfashionmemes is both ‘lol’ and politically engaged in equal measure.
Instagram makes for a particularly fitting place to discuss unethical consumption, home as it is to plenty of bloggers and influencers, each directly responsible for perpetuating the tropes of throwaway fashion. Via #OOTD, and other such hashtags, these public figures imply that you wear your ensemble just once before it becomes entirely redundant. Usually, these pieces are bought from the high street, which has a horrendous track record in terms of human rights and environmental breaches, all in the name of a £3 T-shirt.
This hasn’t escaped the razor-sharp wit of @slowfashionmemes, with its latest post depicting a confused looking stock image of a man, the text exclaiming: “when someone actually has the gd nerve to share their #OOTD on IG and it isn’t head to toe organic, fairtrade, biodegradable, the brands aren’t carbon neutral, the workers weren’t paid the bare minimum, dog didn’t come back and ur still diabetic.” The caption reads: “slow fash should solve all mother earth problems [crying emoji]”. Indeed, the point is that slow fashion cannot solve all problems at once and it can often be all too critical and alienating in its message. What we need is a middle ground to begin to find a way of consuming ethcially that works for all – and if this produces hilarious memes along the way, then so be it.